I just passed the one year mark on T. As with all commemorative moments in life, it felt both monumental and like just another day in a stream of hundreds. I keep going. One day at a time. I’m also approaching my 34th birthday, which feels monumental and mundane as well.
I want to spend some time reflecting today – mostly for the writing process itself – less to arrive anywhere or analyze anything in particular. I heard one writer say that he finds himself as he writes. I can relate. Often, I set out, with no real intention, and spiral into something illuminating.
I have just come from a yoga class. I’ve been going twice weekly the past month and that has helped me feel a rather important shift in my sense of presence. I’m focused on bringing the practice back to my everyday life. Sitting for meditation again is really opening my mind to clearer views. I’m back to full throttle sobriety (after another 5 months of daily drinking) and attend Refuge Recovery meetings, which were founded by Noah Levine, the author of Dharma Punx. I’ve been resistant to AA because of the god factor, so this is a great alternative. Noah incorporates secular Buddhist principles and a punk rock ethos (ie sobriety / meditation as radical acts) which speaks to me and the background I come from. I’ve met some other queers in the group and generally feel the potential to develop a sense of community there. *I’m now 53 days sober*.
One of the side effects of getting sober has been very clearly seeing / feeling the effects of a life of chronic, low-grade depression, or dysthymia. I have functioned with this for many years and because I’ve self-medicated / distracted negative feeling tones / thoughts with alcohol, I’ve not really sat with the depressive feelings. They return now that I’m getting quiet and being present to allow them to surface. At times they swell with intensity (as they did this Saturday and I felt an intense sense of hopelessness) and other times it’s a more subtle itch of dissatisfaction, worry, melancholy.
I find myself questioning if it’s neuro chemistry – if it’s sobriety – if it’s part of my disposition that I can work to counteract. I’m taking good steps to implement self-care. I can’t imagine doing much more in that realm. I am returning to the question of trying an antidepressant. I have been reluctant for a number of years, but feel it very likely that I am serotonin-deficient, much as I learned to conceptualize myself as testosterone-deficient. I carry a lot of expectation on myself to ‘figure this shit out’ without chemical intervention, but much like I softened into seeing I needed to medically transition to live as a man, I can see the potential benefit of boosting my neuro chemicals. At least it doesn’t hurt to try.
And what can I say about my first year on T? It took me to many unexpected places (including the men’s restroom!) and there would be no way I could have anticipated how any of it would feel prior to living it. I feel myself shifting a bit to a less chaotic sense of being. There is still significant change, and I am only 4 months into working at a new job where I am simply known as a man (and gay) except to a few people I’ve come out to as trans*. Despite having ‘passing privilege’ more and more, and very rarely being misgendered (hooray!!!), I wade through new shades of dysphoria. My mental image of myself is still shifting. I sometimes look in the mirror for the evidence that, indeed, I am reflecting a masculine embodiment to the world. Inwardly, I’m learning to integrate the yin and yang aspects of my personality, rather than thinking I need to reject all that is culturally labeled as ‘feminine’ – empathy, kindness, self-reflection, relationality (how fucked up is that?). I’ve struggled a bit to know how to navigate the ‘dude-bro’ codes in social interactions with cis men,but thankfully these are few and far between given I tend to spend most of my time with queers.
I simply can’t avoid mentioning hair growth (I am a predictable trans-man in this sense). The facial hair is making an appearance – sideburns, a nice collection on the upper lip and chin (almost a goatee). It could, indeed, be the year of the beard. My voice continues to get deeper, which I LOVE! I’m still learning how to speak (project) after years of living rather silently. My quiet nature sometimes feels at odds with the masculine code to ‘man-splain’ (I am not and cannot imagine ever being one to do this), but I’m also learning to embrace my quiet, introverted nature as a strength. Hip shrinkage continues (yay!) and I’ve lost about 8 pounds since I stopped drinking. I’m not lifting weights, but I exercise a lot more than I have in the past few years. I feel fit and strong. My top surgery consultation is booked for June and I’m setting the intention to have surgery sometime this summer or autumn. I have not hesitation whatsoever about this and feel incredibly grateful that my insurance will pay for it! Wow!
My words for the coming year: COMPASSION, EMBODIMENT, INTEGRATION